NEW YORK -- Now that you've seen the weekly American League and National League updates on your All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian, it's time to ask the candidates themselves what they think of the voting.
Start with Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez, who last year went to his first All-Star Game in front of family and friends as an NL reserve at Citi Field in New York, replacing Bryce Harper in the field for the seventh inning and then facing Mariano Rivera in the eighth during an AL victory. Now Gomez has just leapfrogged his way into position for what would be a starting job in the 85th Midsummer Classic on July 15 at Target Field in Minnesota, currently holding the NL's No. 3 outfield spot behind No. 1 Yasiel Puig of the Dodgers and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins.
"Just continue to work and continue to win games," Gomez said early in the day on Tuesday after taping a segment as in-studio guest for the weekly "Off the Bat" episode that airs at 11 p.m. ET on MTV2. "Personally, it's another goal that I reached last year ... This year, No. 3 is special. It's a long way to go, still one month to play, and I just continue to show the fans that they can come and they want to see me playing again."
Puig has 1,472,717 votes, Stanton has 1,259,047, and then Gomez has a narrow lead over Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen: 1,192,174 to 1,190,516.
"It means a lot," Gomez said. "The top three, top four guys -- [myself], Stanton and Puig, and McCutchen -- there's three really good players [to start]. It's a real honor to be around those guys. It made me feel more excited to come today and every day to perform and really be a big league player."
McCutchen and Gomez were in the same NL lineup in the late innings last year, as the former came in as a pinch-runner for Carlos Beltran and then took center as Harper moved to right. Will one of these two NL Central stars make a first All-Star starting appearance this time? McCutchen has come off the bench in each of the last three Midsummer Classics, and he's the reigning NL MVP Award winner.
"It's one of those things -- it would be awesome if it happened," McCutchen said Monday night after the latest NL ballot update was announced. "And if not ... [it] shows how far we've come as a team, getting a little more exposure than in prior years. If it happens, it will."
All three Brewers outfielders are in the top 15, with Ryan Braun running sixth (behind Charlie Blackmon of Colorado) and Khris Davis in 13th. Among other Brewers, shortstop Jean Segura and catcher Jonathan Lucroy are third at their respective positions, and Aramis Ramirez is fourth among NL third basemen. Fans have noticed a club that has been in first place in the NL Central since April 9.
"It doesn't matter if we get recognition or not," Gomez said. "The only thing that matters is get the 'W' every day. We still have a long way to go, 100 games to play. We have to continue to be consistent and enjoy every game. Every day is not going to be a game where we get 10 runs, but we have a good team in the starting rotation and bullpen and also the lineup. We have a really cool team, and I think we have the opportunity to make it to the World Series."
Gomez recently moved from leadoff to cleanup and calls that move "a dream come true. I always feel like someday in my career, I'm going to clean up for some team. So far this year, I've had the opportunity to do it, and so far I've been doing OK. It's not good yet."
Gomez is trying to become the fourth player in club history to earn a starting berth via fan election in the current system, joining Braun (four times), Prince Fielder (twice) and Rickie Weeks (once). As one Brewers official pointed out, it should be noted that Gomez made this week's big jump still without the scheduled focused-media campaigning that you will see from the Brewers' front office in days to come, when it gets to the wire and each club knows which players have a legitimate shot.
Gomez is not standing far off in the distance, either. He is very active on social media, where "they can see me personally," and his @C_Gomez27 account routinely retweets posts that push his candidacy. "I'm still struggling writing English," the Dominican native said, "but I try to send good stuff to them."
NL first base has been interesting to watch, as Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers held onto a starting position with 888,906 votes, while Paul Goldschmidt of the D-backs just jumped from fourth to second with 784,026.
"It's awesome," Gonzalez said of his support. "The fans are unbelievable, they're great. I couldn't thank them enough that they're supporting not just the Dodgers, but supporting me at first base. And I'm just very honored and excited for the opportunity that might present. I just keep encouraging them to keep voting, and I know we'll do well."
"I get more satisfaction out of the fact that I know the fans are paying attention, they're following and they're supporting me," said Bautista. "Personal satisfaction, I don't get more just because I'm the leader in votes. That's cool and all but I get a better kick out of it, more pleasure out of it, just knowing the fact that the fans are there sitting on their computers voting or in the stadiums filling out ballots. That's pretty cool, that's pretty humbling, that's what I enjoy the most."
In the AL, Josh Donaldson of the A's is very mindful of the fan love he has had so far -- especially after being snubbed so visibly last year that Jim Leyland, manager of the 2013 AL All-Stars, actually apologized for having to leave him off. Donaldson had 1,470,544 votes when the AL update came out Sunday night, and that was almost twice as many as No. 2 Evan Longoria of the Rays.
"I really appreciate the support that I've been given," Donaldson said. "The fan voting's been great so far. Hopefully I can continue to go out and play where these people believe that I deserve to be the starting third baseman ... It just takes me back to 2012, where at one point I was probably the worst baseball player in the game, to now, where I have an opportunity to maybe start an All-Star Game."
Brandon Moss of the A's is fifth in the latest update at DH with 480,597 votes. He would need to stage one of the greatest last-month finishing kicks in MLB.com voting history to get past leader Nelson Cruz of Baltimore, David Ortiz of Boston, Victor Martinez of Detroit and Edwin Encarnacion of Toronto. But incredible late surges have happened, and there's always the Player Ballot and manager's selection as a reserve path.
"When you talk about just being considered for an All-Star Game, that means a lot," Moss (16 homers and 53 RBIs) told Fox Sports this past week. "It validates things that you've accomplished in this game. It's a long shot just to get here, and then let alone succeed, and then let alone succeed on that kind of level."
Will Seattle's Robinson Cano (1,111,880 votes) be able to hold off Detroit's Ian Kinsler (887,544) in that race at AL second base? It is not unusual to see them vying for that job, but this year they are both with new AL clubs. Cano is on pace to make a fifth consecutive All-Star start, and you can't forget about Dustin Pedroia of Boston with 778,700 votes and a full Red Sox Nation armed with up to 25 ballots per voter. This figures to be a race to watch closely.
"I've got to thank all of those fans," Cano said. "It's something that really means a lot. It's something I really appreciate."
If you watch this half-hour episode of "Off the Bat" -- the latest in a series executive produced by David Ortiz of the Red Sox and shot at MLB Fan Cave -- you definitely will see Gomez take some major pie to the face. He talks about homers vs. robbing homers, his Rottweiler named Tyson, and more. There also will be segments featuring co-host Melanie Iglesias hanging out with David Price and his dog Astro in Tampa, and co-host Chris Distefano spending time in Arizona working out with the D-backs.
"You're going to enjoy it and see a lot of fun stuff out of baseball," Gomez said. "It's a really cool moment and I think you guys are going to enjoy it."